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Richard Clegg

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What the wild things are [Dec. 4th, 2014|10:21 pm]
Richard Clegg


So apparently, an immigration lawyer wrote about Paddington and his immigration status. It's a good read. He claims that 'Mr and Mrs Brown could potentially face prosecution under section 25 of the Immigration Act 1971, entitled “Assisting unlawful immigration to member State”. The maximum sentence is 14 years.' Interesting article and fun in its way.

However, while I'm not a lawyer, I know some and it doesn't look difficult (*) so I thought "hold on, that's surely not what they'd be charged with". So a bit of google later and I get to the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 and this seems a much more likely reason to charge Mr and Mrs Brown who are, after all, keeping a bear without a licence. It turns out that the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 is my favourite bit of legislation apart from the Bees act of 1980. The Bees act contains provisions for the penalties if you refuse to let an appropriate person search a hovercraft suspected to harbour diseased bees: clause 2(1)b.

The fascinating thing about the Dangerous Wild Animals Act is that it lays out which animals are dangerous (and by their omission which are not). They are listed by their latin and common names.

For example, clearly: "Ursidae -- Bears" are dangerous and hence Paddington can only live with the Browns if the local authority (the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in his case) grant such a licence. What other animals are dangerous? Here are some highlights.

Indriidae -- Leaping lemurs (including the indri, sifakas and the woolly lemur) -- I do wish the act contained the word "Batman" after Leaping lemurs, it sounds like the kind of thing Robin would exclaim to Adam West. I'm not sure what the specific lemur related danger is here but let us accept that it is the case that they are Dangerous Wild Animals.

Odobenidae, Otariidae and Phocidae, except Phoea vitulina and Halichoerus grypus -- The walrus, eared seals, sealions and earless seals (the common and grey seals are excepted). Great news for common and grey seal owners there.

Orycteropidae -- The aardvark. Fair enough an aardvark has large claws for digging into termite mounds however note the next part.

Hyaenidae except the species Proteles cristatus -- Hyaenas (except the aardwolf). Now this baffles me, especially as the Aardvark got a specific mention as dangerous in a line of its own. Who was sitting there in committee when someone said "hyaena's are dangerous" and said "Nah... the aardwolf's gentle as a lamb mate, I keep three myself."

Bradypodidae -- Sloths. Now you might sneer but actually sloths have some wicked claws on them. However, this is curiously specific. Bradypodidae are three toed sloths. Two toed sloths (Megalonychidae) are not covered by the act and I guess we can assume are safe. Similarly, should the extinct giant prehistoric sloth Megalonychidae be created in some kind of Jurassic Park (Oligocene Park in fact) way then that wouldn't be covered despite the fact it quite clearly would be dangerous. Don't you wish you'd been on this committee? "And now we come to the sloth? Ladies, Gentleman, is a sloth a Dangerous Wild Animal?" "I don't know, how many toes does it have?"

Ailuropodidae (Ailuridae) -- The giant panda and the red panda Aw... giant pandas, dangerous... surely not? But legally they are. In fact this is my very favourite bit because alert readers with a modicum of taxonomic knowledge will know that the Giant Panda is no longer Ailuropodidae (Ailuridae) according to most scientists and are now widely accepted into Ursidae following genetic studies in the mid 80s. However, this occurred after the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 (that naturally occurred in 1976).

This brings me to the reason that it is my favourite act. Apart from the ridiculous list of animals it makes this clear statement. The only animal (**) that appears in the list twice is the Giant Panda and thus, in British law, it's clear that the giant panda is the most Dangerous Wild Animal of all.


(*) Joking -- obvs.

(**) As far as I know -- I'm as much a biologist as I am a lawyer.
linkReply

Comments:
[User Picture]From: moral_vacuum
2014-12-04 10:23 pm (UTC)

"My hovercraft is full of bees". No phrase book should be without it.

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[User Picture]From: steer
2014-12-04 10:25 pm (UTC)
My "vessel, boat, hovercraft aircraft or vehicle of any other description;" is suspected to be full of diseased bees.
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[User Picture]From: moral_vacuum
2014-12-04 11:29 pm (UTC)

"Please direct me to the nearest appropriate person".

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[User Picture]From: nisaba
2014-12-05 08:32 am (UTC)
How do you define an appropriate person? They're covered in bees!
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[User Picture]From: steer
2014-12-05 02:29 pm (UTC)
Worse they're covered in diseased bees.
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[User Picture]From: zotz
2014-12-04 10:28 pm (UTC)
Giant Pandas aren't fast, but they'll happily kill and eat anything that can't escape. Tethered goats, for example.
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[User Picture]From: steer
2014-12-04 11:01 pm (UTC)
Hmm... I'm not so convinced of this. There are photos of them eating meat from carcasses but I know of no good evidence of them killing an animal as large as a goat tethered or otherwise. Google doesn't seem to find it. They have attacked keepers before now mind you.

Still, if we take literally both the assertion that pandas will kill tethered animals and also "man is born free and everywhere he is in chains" then surely there's a huge risk of pandas killing and eating people. No wonder they are a Dangerous Wild Animal.

Here's a video of one killing a peacock though:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RGI4ZjwuXj0

(There's a youtube video allegedly of a panda killing a goat but it's so blurry as to be useless and looks like a panda eating a carcass).
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[User Picture]From: zotz
2014-12-05 02:32 am (UTC)
It hasn't been filmed, but people involved with the Chinese panda program seem convinced it happens.
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[User Picture]From: steer
2014-12-05 02:29 pm (UTC)
Interesting, looks like you're probably right... quite odd that for such a well-known large mammal it's behaviour is undocumented to the extent that whether it is capable of killing anything of size is hard to know (I've no reason to disbelieve that claim but it's odd that it's the best sourced evidence you or I could find).
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[User Picture]From: zotz
2014-12-06 07:18 pm (UTC)
They're quite rare. It's probably fairly difficult to film them doing anything in the wild - except eating bamboo shoots, of course.
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[User Picture]From: steer
2014-12-08 12:35 am (UTC)
This is true -- but you'd have thought "easiest animals in the world to study". Very distinctive, large, in diminishing habitat -- so you're looking for something dead large that's easy to find in a small area. (Though it turns out that small area isn't that small.)
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[User Picture]From: devilgate
2014-12-09 12:25 am (UTC)
I thought their whole problem was that they only ate bamboo shoots.

Spose that's a rural myth.
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[User Picture]From: steer
2014-12-11 09:18 pm (UTC)
Their problem is they are insanely well designed for eating bamboo... but they can eat other things.
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[User Picture]From: shermarama
2014-12-05 09:53 am (UTC)
Well, both the aardwolf and the aardvark seem to mainly eat ants and termites and not really meat at all, so neither of them are going to attack you for food. But the largest aardwolves only reach 15kg, and many are only 7-10 kg, while an aardvark weighs between 60 and 80 kg, and I therefore propose that aardvarks are more dangerous because they're a crush hazard.
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[User Picture]From: steer
2014-12-05 12:41 pm (UTC)
I can believe an aardvark to be a credible threat as they have claws designed to tear through sun-hardened mud -- they could probably do you a severe mischief.
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[User Picture]From: ms_siobhan
2014-12-05 06:27 pm (UTC)
Glorious stuff :-) just the thing to put a smile on my face after a challenging day - thank you.


And on a semi-serious note, we had a talk on bees at the WI and the diseases they can suffer from are both horrid and fascinating.
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[User Picture]From: steer
2014-12-08 12:35 am (UTC)
Glad you enjoyed it.
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